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Reservoir sedimentation management

Cost-efficient and sustainable solutions for the dam industry

The annual cost caused by reservoir

sedimentation is US$ 15 billion
Over the last century, a large number of big dams have
been constructed worldwide. The combined storage in
large dams today amounts to more than 6,000 km3.
Sedimentation causes significant losses to the storage
volume each year, estimated at around 0.5% - 1.0% of
the total combined storage. This results in
replacement costs of the storage loss in an order of
magnitude of US$ 10 billion.
Other cost-intensive factors related to sediment are
damages to turbines, loss of hydropower production
as well as downstream impacts, with combined costs
of more than US$ 5 billion. Thus, the annual cost of
reservoir sedimentation exceeds US$ 15 billiona
significant amount compared to the annual investment
costs in hydropower. However, the annual spending on
sedimentation mitigation is much lesser than the costs
incurred by reservoir sedimentation.
Dam development is moving up the climate
With climate change and the search for CO2-neutral
energy, hydropower and dam development has not
only regained a central position in many national and
international development strategies, but it has also
gained importance with international donors.

Dams/Hydropower designers and operators,
international donors
Loss of storage
Loss of hydropower revenue
Damage to turbines and other hydromechanical parts
Adverse environmental impacts
Proper sediment management through
integrated solutions combining technical,
environmental and economic parameters; Stateof-the-art numerical modelling of reservoir
sediment and hydrodynamics.
Sustainable sedimentation management from
the planning to the operation stage
Reduced repair and maintenance costs
Increased revenue

Sustainable development is development that meets

the needs of the present without compromising the
ability of future generations to meet their own needs,
as defined by the Brundtland Commission in 1987.
This inter-generation equity principle is particularly
relevant to reservoir sedimentation, as storage is not a
renewable resource without proper sedimentation
management strategies in both design and operation
of hydropower projects.

Good sedimentation management is key to sustainable

hydropower, as it ensures that storage is a renewable

Model-based analyses of reservoir processes

Based on our expertise, our advanced numerical
modelling solutions as well as decades of international
experience, we can help you tackle the problems
associated with sedimentation in all phases of project
development and operation.

Reservoir sedimentation management

Cost-efficient and sustainable solutions for the dam industry

To allow for economically efficient and sustainable

sedimentation handling, you need to

be able to predict reservoir sedimentation and

test alternative sedimentation mitigation measures.

DHI has developed a suite of models for the simulation of

reservoir processes that can improve the management of
reservoir sedimentation. These models can represent
reservoirs ranging from small pools at run-of-river (ROR)
schemes to large storage reservoirs, with almost any
configuration of gates, spillways and intakes. They allow
to test alternative set ups and thereby contribute
effectively to optimisation of both design and operations.
Reservoir simulation in all dimensions
DHIs model suite for reservoir simulation comprises
MIKE 11 a one-dimensional (1D) model for simulation
of both fine suspended and coarser bed load transport
in rivers and similar water bodies. It is applicable to
long narrow reservoirs.
MIKE 21 a two-dimensional (2D; depth integrated)
model for simulation of sediment and morphology in
shallow water bodies. Primarily applicable in (shallow)
ROR reservoirs. A curvilinear version is particularly
useful for long-term simulations.
MIKE 3 a three-dimensional (3D) model for simulation
of sediment transport in all types of water bodies
including deep storage reservoirs.

Typical sedimentation pattern in a ROR scheme.

Solutions for all stages of your project
Right from the conception of the project, we supply you
with a thorough evaluation of the existing database on
hydrology and sediments and define the need for
additional data.
To fill this need, our Survey & Monitoring Group will
measure and assess hydrological parameters and
sediment load in rivers utilising both modern and
traditional equipment.
We can contribute to the design and execution of
monitoring programs, including the training of field staff.
During the pre-feasibility and feasibility phase of your
project, our vast experience within hydrology, catchment
modelling, hydraulics, sediment transport, reservoir
sedimentation analyses and Environmental Impact
assessments (EIAs) will contribute to the high-quality and
cost-efficient execution of the required studies. For
planned and existing project, we can develop
sedimentation-guided operation policies that will
minimise downtime, maximise revenue and ensure
sustainability of the project.

Characteristic application areas of DHIs modelling

Specifically, DHI offers:
Analyses of existing databases as well as design and
execution of required field work
Analyses of sediment load based on catchment
modelling or data analyses
Estimation of reservoir sedimentation patterns
Reservoir flushing analyses effectiveness and
environmental impact
Design of sedimentation mitigation measures in ROR
and storage schemes
Optimisation of sediment handling in ROR schemes
Lifecycle management of sediment
Downstream impact on morphology
Impact of climate changes

Contact: Water Resources Department - -

June 2012 DHI

Two-dimensional model of an ROR scheme. Detail of the

model in the vicinity of the dam, power intake and
sediment flushing tunnels.